|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door phaeton/convertible|
|Engine||134.1 cu in (2.2 L) I4
148.5 cu in (2.4 L) I6
161 cu in (2.6 L) I6
|Transmission||3-speed manual with overdrive|
|Wheelbase||104 in (2,642 mm)|
|Length||174 in (4,420 mm)|
|Width||69 in (1,753 mm)|
|Height||62 in (1,575 mm)|
The Jeepster was an automobile originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1948 to 1950. It was developed in hopes of filling a gap in the company's product line, crossing over from their "utilitarian" proto SUVs and trucks to the passenger automobile market. The basic model included numerous deluxe features and interior fittings in addition to a high level of standard equipment that cost extra on other automobiles. A total of almost 20,000 were manufactured.
The Jeepster name was revived in 1966 on a new model, the C-101 Jeepster Commando. American Motors (AMC), Willys-Overland's successor, removed Jeepster from the name for 1972, ending production after 1973.
After World War II, Jeep trademark owner, Willys, believed that the market for the military-type Jeep would be limited to farmers and foresters, therefore they began producing the "CJ" (or Civilian Jeep) to fill this growing segment. Willys began producing the Jeep Wagon and the Panel Utility in 1946, and the Jeep Truck in 1947.
Seeing a gap in their product lineup, Willys developed the Jeepster to crossover from their "utilitarian" trucks to the passenger automobile market. Willys-Overland lacked the machinery to form deep-drawn fenders or complicated shapes, so the vehicle had to use a simple and slab-sided design. Industrial designer Brooks Stevens styled a line of postwar vehicles for Willys using a common platform that included the Jeep pickup and station wagon, as well as a sporty two-door open car that he envisioned as a sports car for veterans of World War II.
The basic 1948 Jeepster included numerous deluxe features and interior fittings in addition to a high level of standard equipment that cost extra on other automobiles. These included, among many others, whitewall tires, hubcaps with bright trim rings, sun visors, deluxe steering wheel, wind wings, locking glovebox, cigar lighter, and continental tire with fabric cover. The Jeepster had Willys' World War II-proven 134.2 cu in (2.2 L) straight-4 "Go Devil" engine, and plastic side curtains, but its $1,765 price was about the same as a Ford Super DeLuxe club convertible with roll-down windows, fancier styling, and a V8 engine.
The car was only offered with rear-wheel drive, thus limiting its appeal with other Jeep customers. Its distinctive boxy styling and performance were praised by automotive journalists. However, the Jeepster did not catch on with the intended market segment. Sales were also limited by sparse advertising and an insufficient dealer network.
The Jeepster's engine gave 63 hp (47 kW; 64 PS), which was coupled to a 3-speed manual transmission with standard overdrive. The Planadyne single transverse leaf spring independent front suspension , entire drivetrain, front end, rear suspension, steering, and four-wheel drum brakes were from the Willys Station Wagon. The flat-topped rear fenders were taken from the Jeep truck line.
The 1949 Jeepster began production with a one-model/one-engine offering. The price was lowered to $1,495, with some previously standard features returning as extra-cost options. Toward the middle of the year, an additional model was introduced, the VJ3-6, powered by Willys' new L148 Lightning six-cylinder engine.
The 1950 model year saw the VJ-3 Jeepster's first styling revisions, which included a new instrument panel and redesigned front end featuring a V-shaped grille with horizontal chrome trim. The car had very little standard equipment. Willys' L161 Lightning six-cylinder was offered in addition to the standard Kill Devil four-cylinder. Model designations were dependent on production timeframe, with early 1950s four-cylinder Jeepsters given VJ-3 463 and six-cylinders VJ-3 663, changed to VJ-473 and VJ-673, respectively, for later year vehicles.
- 1948-1950 - L134 Go Devil I4 — 134.1 cu in (2,198 cc)
- 1949-1950 - L148 Lightning I6 —148.5 cu in (2,433 cc)
- 1950 - F134 Hurricane I4 —134.2 cu in (2,199 cc)
- 1950 - L161 Lightning I6 —161 cu in (2,640 cc)
A grand total of 19,132 original VJ Jeepsters were produced over three model years:
- 1948 - 10,326
- 1949 - 2,960
- 1950 - 5,836
- 1948 Willys Jeepster Introduction
- Brown 1994, p. 236.
- Mattar 2012.
- Brown 1994, pp. 70, 72.
- Brown 1994, p. 74.
- Brown 1994, pp. 58, 68.
- 1948 Willys Jeepster Development
- Brown 1994, p. 76.
- Brown 1994, p. 78.
- Statham 2002, p. 77.
- 1948 Willys Jeepster Design Features
- 1948 Willys Jeepster Reviews
- Brown 1994, pp. 68,70,76.
- 1949-1950 Willys Jeepster
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 2: 1948 Willys Jeepster Development". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 3: 1948 Willys Jeepster Introduction". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 4: 1948 Willys Jeepster Design Features". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 5: 1948 Willys Jeepster Reviews". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (4 October 2007). "1948-1951 Willys Jeepster page 6: 1949-1950 Willys Jeepster". HowStuffWorks.com. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Brown, Arch (1994). "Chapter Four – Postwar Plans for Willys: 1945-52". Jeep: The Unstoppable Legend. Lincolnwoood, IL USA: Publications International. ISBN 0-7853-0870-9. LCCN 94-66811.
- Mattar, George (December 2005). "1948-1951 Jeepster". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Statham, Steve (2002). Jeep Color History. MBI Publishing. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-7603-0636-9. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Willys Jeepster.|
- Willys Overland Jeepster Club
- Hurst Jeepster Pages
- Jeepster History
- Midstates Jeepster Association
- Jeepster clubs
|Compact SUV||Jeepster (VJ)||Jeepster Commando||Commando|
|SUV||Willys Jeep Station Wagon||Cherokee (SJ)|
|Compact pickup||Jeepster Commando||Commando|
|Full-size pickup||Willys Jeep Truck|